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Microsoft Unveils Hologram Visor

January 23, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Microsoft Corp surprised the tech world with the unveiling of a prototype hologram visor that can bring the Minecraft video game, Skype calls and even the landscape of Mars to three-dimensional life.

The veteran tech pioneer, which long ago lost the mantle of the world’s most inventive company, is making a bold play to regain that title in the face of stiff competition from Google Inc and Apple Inc.

Virtual or enhanced reality is the next frontier in computing interaction, with Facebook Inc focusing on its Oculus virtual reality headset and Google working on its Glass project.

Microsoft said its wire-free Microsoft HoloLens device will be available around the same time as Windows 10 this autumn. Industry analysts were broadly excited at the prospect, but skeptical that it could produce a working model at a mass-market price that soon.

“That was kind of a ‘Oh wow!’ moment,” said Mike Silver, an analyst at Gartner who tried out the prototype on Wednesday. “You would expect to see a relatively high-priced model this year or next year, then maybe it’ll take another couple of years to bring it down to a more affordable level.”

Microsoft does not have a stellar record of bringing ground-breaking technology to life. Its Kinect motion-sensing game device caused an initial stir but never gripped the popular imagination.

The company showed off a crude test version of the visor – essentially jerry-rigged wires and cameras pulled over the head – to reporters and industry analysts at a gathering at its headquarters near Seattle.

It did not allow any photographs or video of the experience, but put some images on its website.

 

 

ARM Develops IoT For Students

January 23, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

ARM has created a course to teach IoT skills to students at University College London (UCL)

The course is designed to encourage graduates in science, technology, engineering and maths (Stem) to seek careers in IT.

The IoT Education Kit will teach students how to use the Mbed IoT operating system to create smartphone apps that control mini-robots or wearable devices.

Students are expected to be interested in building their own IoT business, or joining IoT-focused enterprises like ARM. The course will also try to limit the number of Stem graduates pursuing non-technology careers.

ARM reported statistics from a 2012 study by Oxford Policy and Research revealing how many engineering graduates (36 percent of males, 51 percent of females), technology graduates (44 percent, 53 percent) and computer scientists (64 percent, 66 percent) end up with non-Stem jobs.

The IoT Education Kit will be rolled out by UCL’s Department of Electronics from September 2015, with a week-long module for full-time and continuing professional development students.

The Kit comprises a complete set of teaching materials, Mbed-enabled hardware boards made by Nordic Semiconductor, and software licensed from ARM. A second teaching module for engineering graduates is being developed for 2016.

“Students with strong science and mathematical skills are in demand and we need to make sure they stay in engineering,” said ARM CTO Mike Muller.

“The growth of the IoT gives us a great opportunity to prove to students why our profession is more exciting and sustainable than others.”

UCL professor Izzat Darwazeh also highlighted the importance of Stem skills, saying that “many students are not following through to an engineering career and that is a real risk to our long-term success as a nation of innovators”.

Courtesy-TheInq

LG Refutes Claims Of Overheating Qualcomm Phone Processors

January 23, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

South Korean smartphone maker LG Electronics Inc said on Thursday that it has not experienced any overheating problems with Qualcomm Inc’s new Snapdragon processor that is powering a curved-screen device going on sale later this month.

“I am very much aware of the various concerns in the market about the (Snapdragon) 810, but the chip’s performance is quite satisfactory,” Woo Ram-chan, LG vice president for mobile product planning, told reporters at a press event for the company’s G Flex2 smartphone.

The comment came after Bloomberg reported a day earlier that Samsung Electronics Co Ltd, the world’s top smartphone maker, decided not to use the new Qualcomm processor for the next flagship Galaxy S smartphone after the chip overheated during testing. Samsung and Qualcomm have declined to comment on the report, which cited unidentified sources.

Samsung is widely expected to unveil the new Galaxy S smartphone in early March, and Bloomberg reported that the Korean firm will use its own processors instead.

But LG’s Woo said on Thursday that internal tests for the G Flex2, powered by the new Qualcomm processor, show that the new product emits less heat than other existing devices. The new phone is scheduled to start selling in South Korea on Jan. 30.

“I don’t understand why there is a issue over heat,” he said.

 

 

Rumors Say Samsung Is Quietly Seeking To Buy Blackberry

January 23, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Mobile

For a while, the rumor mill has manufactured hell on earth yarns claiming that Samsung is set to buy the Canadian smartphone maker Blackberry.

The deal always seems to fall through, and in any event has never happened.

However the Financial Post has found evidence that this time Samsung is actively pursuing a plan to take over or buy a significant stake in BlackBerry.

The story is still a rumour because both companies have denied such a plan may be in the works, but a document obtained by the Financial Post, prepared for Samsung by New York-based independent investment bank Evercore Partners, outlines the case for, and the potential structure of a possible purchase of BlackBerry.

The paper is a little elderly and was written in the last quarter of 2014, but a source familiar with the matter said that Samsung remains very interested in acquiring all or part of BlackBerry for the right price.

J.K. Shin, Samsung’s co-chief executive, told The Wall Street Journal that his company is in talks to use some of BlackBerry’s technology in the South Korean company’s devices, but is not interested in an acquisition. “We want to work with BlackBerry and develop this partnership, not acquire the company.”

But it appears that Samsung was caught off guard by a Reuters leak earlier this week. It had hoped it could move in quickly on BlackBerry, and the company’s share price would stay low. When the news went up and the share price rose its bid looked a little weak.

BlackBerry appears to have learned of the price Samsung was hoping to pay through the Reuters leak, before the company could make a formal offer. This is the sort of thing Samsung wanted to avoid.

In five years, BlackBerry thought the return on their turnaround strategy as implemented by John Chen was going to do better than the cash they will be receiving today.

Still, the source maintains that Samsung is still keen on making a deal happen. The talk earlier this week about Samsung extending its cooperation with BlackBerry, which was notably lacking in specifics, is “just setting it up,” the source said. “Samsung hasn’t walked away” from an acquisition. “They’re leaning towards it.”

Courtesy-Fud

Google, The Wireless Carrier?

January 23, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Google has put in place the framework for its own cellular service by acquiring capacity on the networks of Sprint and T-Mobile USA, according to news reports.

The sprawling search company would sell the service directly to consumers, according to The Wall Street Journal, which cited unnamed sources. Tech news site The Information reported on the deals earlier this week.

Google is heavily involved in mobile through its Android operating system, the world’s most widely used mobile OS, as well as through selling mobile advertising, and is pushing to make more radio spectrum available for wireless services. But the partnerships with Sprint and T-Mobile would bring the company into the cellular business itself, offering Google phone plans directly to consumers.

The deals would make Google an MVNO (mobile virtual network operator), a carrier that doesn’t build or operate its own network but sells services that run on the partners’ infrastructure. Sprint is the third-largest U.S. mobile carrier and T-Mobile is the fourth largest.

As a powerful and well-heeled newcomer, Google might disrupt the cellular industry, just as it has the wired broadband business with its Google Fiberservice. The U.S. mobile industry has been wracked by new business models and falling prices in recent years.

It’s not clear whether the company will launch a full-scale national effort or a more limited rollout. There are terms in Google’s contract with Sprint that would allow for renegotiation if Google draws a huge number of subscribers, the Journal said.

 

 

 

Facebook Going After Hoaxes, Fake News Stories

January 22, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Facebook Inc said it has put measures in place  to clamp down on “hoaxes” and fake news stories that can spread rather rapidly  on its 1.35-billion member online social network.

The company said it had introduced an option to allow Facebookusers to flag a story as “purposefully fake or deceitful news” to reduce the distribution of news stories reported as hoaxes.

Facebook said it will not remove fake news stories from its website. Instead, the company’s algorithm, which determines how widely user posts are distributed, will take into account hoax reports.

“A post with a link to an article that many people have reported as a hoax or chose to delete will get reduced distribution in the News Feed,” Facebook explained.

Facebook has become an increasingly important source of news, with 30 percent of adults in the U.S. consuming news on the world’s largest social network, according to a 2013 study by the Pew Research Center in collaboration with the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

Facebook cited stories about dinosaur sightings and research supposedly proving the existence of Santa Claus as examples of fake news stories.

Facebook said “satirical” content, such as news stories “intended to be humorous, or content that is clearly labeled as satire,” should not be affected.

 

 

Samsung Dumped Qualcomm Processors In Next Galaxy S Phone

January 22, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Samsung Electronics Co Ltd will not use Qualcomm Inc’s  processors for the next version of the South Korean technology giant’s flagship Galaxy S smartphone, according to Bloomberg.

Such an outcome would be a blow for Qualcomm’s prospects for 2015, with the company already having guided for weaker-than-usual annual revenue growth in a five-year outlook issued in November. Samsung, the world’s No.1 smartphone maker, has been one of the U.S. company’s top customers.

Qualcomm’s new Snapdragon 810 chip overheated during Samsung’s testing, Bloomberg reported. The South Korean company will use its own processors instead, Bloomberg said.

A Qualcomm spokesman declined to comment on the report. A Samsung spokeswoman said the company does not comment on rumours.

Analysts have said the Snapdragon 810 chip has been dealing with a variety of performance issues that may not be corrected in time for the launch of Samsung’s next Galaxy S smartphone.

The South Korean firm is widely expected to unveil the device on the sidelines of the Mobile World Congress trade show in early March. Samsung will need to ensure that the phone does not disappoint in order to keep its global market share from slipping further, analysts said.

Samsung has already used its own Exynos processors in flagship devices such as the Galaxy S5 to some extent, though analysts said Qualcomm’s Snapdragon chips were more widely used. Greater adoption of Exynos chips in Samsung smartphones would help boost sales for the struggling foundry business.

“Samsung will likely show off the new Galaxy S phone in about a month and a half, so one would have to assume that the chips have been tested a fair amount in order for them to be used,” said HMC Investment analyst Greg Roh.

 

 

IBM Seeking Cloud Expansion Through Acquisitions

January 22, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Computing

IBM will favor purchases that strengthen its cloud services, the company’s CFO said Tuesday, as it seeks ways to expand its business after 11 straight quarters of declining revenue.

“Most of our acquisitions will probably be on an ‘as a service’ basis, as opposed to an on-premise model,” CFO Martin Schroeter said during IBM’s quarterly earnings call, in response to a question.

“That’s the nature of the market and where we have a lot of opportunity, because we don’t play in some of those areas today,” he said.

IBM could use the growth. On Tuesday it said revenue for the last quarter declined across all major segments — hardware, software and services. Profits were down as well, though they beat the forecast of financial analysts polled by Thomson Reuters.

IBM sees cloud services as one of its best chances for growth, as sales of its more traditional products, including mainframes and Unix servers, continue to decline.

Two years ago it bought SoftLayer to help it compete with Amazon Web Services, and last year it bought Cloudant, which provides a database as a service, and Light House Security, another cloud provider. This year, it looks like more cloud deals will be in the works.

Meanwhile, CEO Ginni Rometty has been selling off businesses that produce little or no profit. In October, she announced a plan to sell IBM’s chip manufacturing business for US$1.3 billion to Global Foundries, and before that she sold its x86 server business to Lenovo.

So IBM’s revenue is shrinking in part by design, but it needs to expand its other, more profitable businesses to compensate for the losses. And that isn’t yet happening at a fast enough rate.

 

 

Microsoft Looking Into Light Beams

January 21, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Around The Net

Microsoft Researchers have worked out a way that means you will never have to plug in your phone again.

Yunxin Liu, Zhen Qin and Chunshui Zhao from Microsoft Research’s Beijing campus have developed a new system they call AutoCharge.

The researchers’ paper said that “wireless power methods have several disadvantages, preventing them from being used in our targeted usage scenarios”

Electromagnetic radiation of wireless power is much higher than wireless communications (Wi-Fi or 3G). Thus, safety to human bodies is a big issue in wireless power. As a result, wireless power is usually used only in extreme scenarios such as in outer space, for military purposes, or in very short ranges.

Radio frequencies used in wireless power are much lower than the frequencies of light, it is hard to emit the radio waves within a straight beam. This causes energy waste if the receiver is not large enough and makes it hard to ensure safety.
The current crop of wireless charging solutions for smartphones typically require special phone cases and ‘charging pads’, and work using electromagnetic induction. Power is transmitted only over a few centimetres.

However the researchers came up with a way of using solar power techniques to charge smartphones.

Indoor surrounding light is usually much than the sunlight and thus cannot be used to charge a smartphone but instead of relying on the sun, the team built a prototype charger that can be mounted on a ceiling and automatically locate a smartphone lying on a table, then charge it using a directed beam of light.

The light charger has two modes. In the ‘detection’ mode, it uses a camera and image recognition software to detect objects with the size and shape of a smartphone lying on a table. The charger will rotate until it detects an object that looks like a smartphone.

The device then enters charging mode and turns on its light. The prototype used an UltraFire CREE XM-L T6 Focusing LED Flashlight.

Courtesy-Fud

Twitter Acquires Marketing Start-up ZipDial

January 21, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Twitter Inc announced plans to acquire Indian mobile phone marketing start-up ZipDial, reportedly for $30 million to $40 million, as the U.S. microblogging service looks to expand in the world’s second-biggest mobile market.

Bengaluru-based ZipDial gives clients phone numbers for use in marketing campaigns. Consumers call the numbers and hang up before connecting and incurring charges, and then receive promotion-related text messages.

The start-up’s clients include International Business Machines Corp, Yum! Brands Inc’s KFC and Procter & Gamble Co’s Gillette.

The service capitalizes on a local tradition of communicating through so-called missed calls. A person may give a friend a missed call to signal arrival at an agreed destination, for instance, without having to pay the cost of a phone call.

Such “unique behavior” was behind ZipDial, the start-up said in a statement announcing the Twitter deal.

Twitter did not disclose terms of the purchase. Techcrunch, citing unidentified sources, reported the deal at $30 million to $40 million.

“This acquisition significantly increases our investment in India, one of the countries where we’re seeing great growth,” Twitter said in a statement.

The acquisition is the latest in India by global tech giants who have snapped up companies in a fledgling startup scene, concentrated in the tech hub of Bengaluru in southern India.

Last year, Facebook Inc bought Little Eye Labs, a start-up that builds performance analysis and monitoring tools for mobile apps. Yahoo! Inc bought Bookpad, whose service allows developers to add document viewing and editing to their own applications.

 

 

Alibaba Has Major Plans To Court U.S. Business In 2015

January 20, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

China’s Alibaba Group Holding Ltd  is gearing up to capture U.S. business this year, by offering American retailers new ways to sell to China’s vast and growing middle class.

Anchored by Alipay, the dominant Chinese electronic payments system that works closely with Alibaba and is controlled by its executives, the world’s largest Internet retailer is using the calling card of China’s consumers to attract U.S. partners, two sources close to the company told Reuters.

Long seen as the most potent threat to Amazon.com Inc with $300 billion in global sales, the moves add up to a conservative approach to expanding in the United States, contrary to industry speculation that the company may be plotting a direct assault on U.S. soil.

Long seen as the most potent threat to Amazon.com Inc with $300 billion in global sales, the moves add up to a conservative approach to expanding in the United States, contrary to industry speculation that the company may be plotting a direct assault on U.S. soil.

That considered strategy, outlined to Reuters for the first time by the sources and executives who work directly with the Chinese company, is intended to heighten awareness in the United States of what Alibaba does, gain goodwill in an important Western market, and lay the groundwork for a longer-term play.

At the heart of its push are Alibaba’s and Alipay’s trial deals to handle Chinese sales, payment and shipping for some of the biggest names in U.S. retail from Neiman Marcus Group to Saks Inc. Both confirmed the agreement but would not talk about how the pilots are faring.

 

The Chinese companies will also work with U.S. startup Shoprunner, an online mall for U.S. retailers in which it owns a stake, and retail services provider Borderfree Inc  to court Chinese consumers.

And Alibaba is preparing a marketing campaign to raise awareness among U.S. businesses of its global business-to-business wholesale platform, Alibaba.com, so they can buy and sell to and from global suppliers.

 

 

 

Verizon Fixes Serious Securty Flaw In My FiOS Mobile App

January 20, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Verizon corrected a serious vulnerability in its My FiOS mobile application that granted unfettered access to email accounts, according to a developer who found the problem.

Randy Westergren, a senior software developer with XDA Developers, looked at the Android version of My FiOS, which is used for account management, email and scheduling video recordings.

“Since Verizon has a good amount of my information, I thought it would be a good candidate for research,” Westergren wrote on his personal blog. “I was right, and the results were astonishing.”

The flaw, contained in the application’s API, could have allowed an attacker to read individual messages from a person’s Verizon inbox and even send emails from an account, he wrote.

Westergren looked at the traffic sent back and forth between My FiOS and Verizon’s servers. He found My FiOS would return the content of someone else’s email inbox by simply substituting a different user ID in a request.

He contacted Verizony, which later acknowledged the problem. Verizon issued a fix last Friday, Westergren wrote.

“Verizon’s security group seemed to immediately realize the impact of this vulnerability and took it very seriously,” Westergren wrote. “They were very responsive during this process and even arranged for a free year of FiOS Internet service as a token of their gratitude.”

 

 

 

Xiaomi Unveils The Mi Note, Challenger To iPhone 6 Plus

January 16, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

China’s Xiaomi Inc further challenged Apple Inc on Thursday as the world’s third-biggest smartphone maker and most valuable tech start-up unveiled the flagship Mi Note, its answer to Apple’s iPhone 6 Plus.

Chief Executive Lei Jun introduced the Mi Note in Beijing with a breakdown of the large-screen phone’s technical features, with multiple comparisons to Apple’s equivalent. At 2299 yuan ($371) for a model with 16 gigabytes of memory, the Mi Note will retail for almost two-thirds less than the iPhone 6 Plus.

Just three years after Xiaomi sold its first smartphone, a $1.1 billion round of fundraising announced in December valued the firm at $45 billion. The privately held company has risen to become the world’s No. 3 smartphone maker and is challenging Apple and Samsung Electronics Co Ltd as well as domestic rivals such as Huawei Technologies Co Ltd .

Xiaomi takes efforts to play down comparisons with Cupertino, California-based Apple, though it is commonly called the ‘Apple of China’.

“The Mi Note is shorter, thinner and lighter than the iPhone,” Lei told his audience of thousands gathered in the north of China’s capital.

Lei wore a light-blue shirt, eschewing his previously favoured black top, jeans and sneakers, reminiscent of Apple founder Steve Jobs’ trademark black turtleneck and jeans.

“Xiaomi is an innovative start-up company, with a short history,” said Lei. The company has been frequently criticised for allegedly copying other tech companies, most notably Apple. “In 10 years we will have tens of thousands of patents.”

Lei also laid out Xiaomi’s strategy to connect its smartphones with Xiaomi-branded home appliances, allowing phone users to remotely control washing machines, air purifiers and surveillance cameras.

 

 

 

 

Facebook Launches New Mobile App Offering Free Internet

January 16, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Facebook Inc has rolled out a new mobile phone application that gives Colombian users free access to a handful of online services, broadening Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg’s effort to boost Internet usage in developing markets.

Colombia is the first nation in Latin America to receive the new Internet.org service, in partnership with local mobile phone provider Tigo, but the aim is to push the application across the region.

The tools offered by the service provide a foundation Colombians can use to “build their own prosperity” Zuckerberg said at a presentation in Bogota with President Juan Manuel Santos.

“By giving people these basic tools for free, you’re creating an equal playing field,” Zuckerberg said, referring to entrepreneurs who could use the free Internet to start or grow a business.

Internet.org will offer more than a dozen services via the Android operating system, including online encyclopedia Wikipedia, weather websites, job listings and health information, as well as Facebook’s own social network and messaging service.

Access to the application’s services is free, but links that lead to information on other websites will require users to pay data charges.

The service may even aid the country, which has 21 million Facebook users, as it seeks an end to 50 years of war with Marxist rebels, Zuckerberg said.

“Just giving people the tools of connectivity is important by itself in creating communication and a tighter social fabric in creating peace,” the 30-year-old CEO said.

The service, first launched in Zambia back in July, will eventually be available via other mobile providers.

Facebook has partnered with more than 150 wireless providers over the past four years to offer free or discounted access to its social network, but the new app is the first time the company has added services beyond its own website.

 

 

Is Dailymotion Going After Twitch?

January 16, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Gaming

Dailymotion has hopped onto the game streaming juggernaut and launched a game streaming service.

Dailymotion Games will put the firm into a market that so far includes Twitch, a streamer that has cemented its place as a gaming add-on and a coveted option on the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 consoles.

The Dailymotion information does not dwell on Twitch, which has been a feature of many a gushing press release from console makers such as Sony, but it does say that the live streaming gaming platform has some decent credentials.

For example, the promotional information says that the platform is backed with “industry leading video and live streaming technology”.

The firm also reminds us that it has some history here, and has been e-gaming for some time.

“Since 2011, with the first Dailymotion Cup on Starcraft, Dailymotion has accompanied e-sport growth on the internet,” said Martin Rogard, Dailymotion’s chief operating officer.

“Dailymotion Games is entirely dedicated to e-sports fans and streamers who come together every evening to form an amazingly talented and gregarious community.

“Over the coming months, we will significantly increase our investment in the e-sports domain to ensure worldwide recognition of all our talented content producers.”

Dailymotion said that live streamers will be able to monetise their content, which Microsoft recently confirmed is fine for its users, and that streamers could run their own “controlled video advertisement” and any number of social tools including search and real-time communications. Android and iOS apps are available.

The service is currently in beta. Dailymotion said that it serves some 180 million game videos a month.

 
Courtesy-TheInq